Does the arctic weather we're having mean climate change is a my - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Does the arctic weather we're having mean climate change is a myth?

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MADISON (WKOW) --  The stretch of Arctic cold and snow in the U.S. is proof, to some, that global warming and climate change are a myth.
     Not so, say the scientists who study our climate.
    "The fact is, on a global scale, there's no doubt that the planet is continuing to warm. There's been no hiatus in that, and that's just the fact. This storm that occurred on the east coast, while noteworthy and very powerful, is nothing more than an unusually strong storm," says University of Wisconsin professor Jonathan Martin.
    He says cold snaps like this will continue to be a part of winter, since the frigid air is coming from the far north, where the lack of sun and winter conditions can pack a punch.
    "At the very high latitudes of the northern hemisphere the sun hasn't shown north of about 75 degrees in nearly a month.  And you've got ice and snow cover up there as well. So it's very easy to manufacture desperately cold air. Most winters, there are excursions of that cold air southward. Sometimes it's over northern or western Europe or Asia.  Occasionally, we get one of those southward excursions over eastern North America, and we've got one right  now."
    Martin says researchers routinely monitor the aerial extent of cold air about a mile above sea level, and that measurement has been shrinking over the past seven decades, indicating a warmer blanket of air around the planet.
    "And one little cold snap over eastern North America will not change that. In fact, the last several days, for the whole northern hemisphere, have been below average in terms of the aerial extent of that cold air, compared to the long term average for the same days. So, the hemisphere has been warmer. If we were in Russia, we'd be a lot warmer than normal right now. It depends on where you are."
    Martin says it's important to remember the distinction between climate change and daily weather events when it comes to systems like this.
    "The exact reasons why have very little to do with the climate, have more to do with weather; the day to day variations of weather systems actually dragging that cold air southward.  Out of the high latitudes over the eastern U.S. If we go through an entire winter without having one of these events, that's more unusual than having a winter when you do have one."
     And, professor Martin takes issue with President Trump's recent tweet, which stated in effect, that people in the eastern U.S. should welcome global warming as relief from the cold snap.  
    "This is a major issue. It may not be the leading issue of the day, but it's a major issue and it's one that will not go away. It is stubbornly here to stay. And it's interesting to me that the commander-in-chief would be interested in making light of an issue that the Department of Defense, for a number of years now, has taken very, very seriously as one of the  major destabilization issues around the globe. What's going to happen when water starts to become scarce in certain locations, when arable land becomes a little bit scarce because of climate change. These are major national security threats that we're looking at downstream in time, and for the current commander-in-chief to make light of them because it's a little bit unusually cold in the northeastern U.S. and it jibes with his world view, that's disconcerting.

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